Guest Review: Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

September 22, 2012

Welcome to another installment of “Thoughts from the Ran­cor Pit” in which Andrew and David from the fab­u­lous blog “Ran­cors Love to Read” will review books tak­ing place in the Star Wars uni­verse. This time they are reviewingDark Force Risingthe second installment in The Thrawn Trilogy which popularized the Star Wars books.

Book Review Star Wars Drk Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

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5/5 Rancors – Timothy Zahn continues the incredible story of the New Republic’s efforts to repel the attacks of the formidable Grand Admiral Thrawn in Dark Force Rising, the second volume of a trilogy. Set five years after Return of the Jedi, this book is an excellent continuation of one of the most interesting storylines in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Since the trilogy was written in the early 1990’s, some details have been contradicted by the prequel films and the immense growth of the saga, but the overall impact of the story is undiminished and things fit together remarkably well.

The book opens with Thrawn’s assault upon smuggler Talon Karrde’s base of operations on the planet Myrkr. Karrde is struggling to maintain his profitable neutrality in this conflict, but the open attack by the Empire starts him down a path that ultimately will have major ramifications in determining the victor between the Imperial remnant and the fledgling New Republic. Zahn avoids painting Karrde as a carbon-copy of Han Solo, another smuggler whose heart is opened to his inner goodness via external events, by keeping Karrde as an outside force willing to collaborate with the New Republic but not willing to flat-out join.

The primary focus of this second volume’s plot is centered around the Katana fleet, a legendary group of Clone Wars-era automated dreadnoughts lost in the uncharted depths of space. This fleet, also known as the “Dark Force,” is fantastically desirable to both the New Republic and Grand Admiral Thrawn. The galaxy largely believes the massive fleet to be a myth, but events here prove otherwise and we are swept to a tense conclusion in which both sides make their play to acquire this source of power.

The former Emperor’s Hand and Imperial assassin Mara Jade plays a key role in this story. Her impetus to kill Luke Skywalker remains from the first book, but essentially there’s never a good time to actually do it. Indeed, despite blaming him for the collapse of her life and despite the Emperor’s implanted suggestions, she ends up teaming with Luke to save Karrde and his crew from the Empire. Zahn does a great job weaving her story into Luke’s and she brings a very interesting perspective as an ex-Imperial servant. Also enjoyable is a sequence in which she meets Grand Admiral Thrawn and starts to realize that her role as Emperor’s Hand wasn’t quite what she thought it was.

Luke learns more about the Force and the Jedi through his meeting with the mad Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth on the planet Jomark. Luke is portrayed as very unsure of himself, a decision I don’t entirely agree with, but considering that Luke is single-handedly attempting to chart the future of the Jedi, I can see why Zahn developed this particular characterization. If Luke had been a little more self-confident of his own feelings about right and wrong, I don’t believe he would have spent very long with C’baoth, but I do like how this time depicts Luke as extremely anxious to weigh all possible paths and opinions as he forges his own vision of a new Jedi Order. Also valuable to this portrayal is a short but engaging scene where Luke arbitrates a small dispute between two aliens in a bar and realizes the high esteem that much of the galaxy still places in Jedi.

Dark Force Rising has a spectacular storyline involving Leia’s efforts to understand and ally with the Noghri people, the same species who assiduously attempted to kidnap her and her unborn twins throughout Heir to the Empire. Leia journeys with Chewbacca and C-3PO to Honoghr, the devastated Noghri home world. The Noghri are a brilliant addition to the Star Wars universe, a truly alien species that Leia struggles to relate to and eventually is able to reach. The sequence in which Leia discerns the truth concerning what the Empire did to the Noghri and Honoghr is absolutely compelling.

The Thrawn Trilogy is some of the best reading in the Expanded Universe, and as such Dark Force Rising is highly recommended. Zahn offers a potent mix of action, politics, character development, and intriguing plotlines to make a fresh and highly readable tale.

Buy this Star Wars Book inpaperorelectroniccopy*

Originally published at

5/5 Rancors – Dark Force Rising is the second book in the Thrawn Trilogy and is a great continuation of the struggle between the Republic and Grand Admiral Thrawn’s forces. What we are most interested in this time is the legendary Katana fleet, a large fleet of dreadnoughts lost years ago in the depths of space. It is somewhat difficult to imagine that a fleet of this size has never been found, but space is a big place. The fleet is considered to be a myth by most people, but a few know otherwise. Both sides desperately want to find the dreadnoughts as they could prove to be the difference in the war.

Mara Jade and the smuggler Talon Karrde play major roles in this tale. Karrde wants to remain neutral and profitable, but Thrawn forces his hand by attacking the smuggler’s base of operations on Myrkr. Mara Jade is an extremely interesting character. She is determined to kill Luke because of his role in the death of the Emperor, but she just never seems to be able to actually do it. She works with Karrde and then with Thrawn and creates several interesting complications.

Luke is still involved with trying to shape the Jedi movement, and he is drawn into a confrontation with the rogue Jedi (or Jedi clone) Joruus C’baoth on Jomark. C’baoth considers himself to be the true leader of the Jedi, and he wants Luke as well as Leia and her twins so he can train them in what he espouses to be the correct Jedi way. Leia is busy for much of the book trying to make allies of the Noghri, an alien species that is an excellent addition to the Star Wars realm.

The Thrawn Trilogy is consistently outstanding. I believe that any Star Wars fan will love all three books in this series.

Buy this Star Wars Book inpaperorelectroniccopy*

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